A Victims Approach for the Declaration on Right to Peace

13 March 2015

28th Regular Session of the Human Rights Council

–2 to 27 March 2015

– Item 3 – General Debate

Joint Written Statement

A victims approach for the declaration on Right to Peace

Associazione Comunità Papa Giovanni XXIII (APG23) and other co-signing NGOs realize that the process on the Declaration of Right to Peace will reach its end at the next session of the Intergovernmental Working Group that will be held in April 2015. In this regard, our NGOs appeal to the Human Rights Council to declare the Right to Peace, to strongly condemn war and the use of violence to solve disputes and conflicts and to reiterate the inalienable right to live in a world where war and conflicts are progressively eliminated through the promotion of mutual understanding, tolerance, development, respect of human rights and peaceful relationships.

During wars and armed conflicts, gross and systematic violation of all human rights and fundamental freedoms occur, including inter alia, extrajudicial killings, forced displacement, summary execution, sexual violence, looting, abduction, large-scale of arrest, forced recruitment of children, disappearance, beating, torture, arbitrary detention, forced labour practices or lack of fundamental economics right (i.e. water, food, medicines).

In particular, the right to life and security of people and their fundamental dignity is always under threat, even violated. Women and children especially, are the most vulnerable among the victims of such a context. Moreover, even in absence of war and conflicts, millions of people in the world suffer the consequences of increased inequities between and within countries, of poverty and violations of economic, social, cultural rights as well as civil and political rights. They are victims of a structural war rooted in injustice, in unregulated finance, in a wrong development and economic model that favour few at the expenses of many others.

Nowadays, the international community has the legal resources to progressively eliminate war and armed conflicts all over the earth through the respect of international law, the promotion of the culture of peace and friendship among all peoples and nations. The United Nations should again declare that war is unlawful from a legal perspective, as well as totally incompatible with peace and a clear abuse of humans rights, and in particular the right to life.

As members of civil society we have the duty to bring to the attention of Member States and other stakeholders the voice of the people of the world who are victims of armed conflict, direct, structural and cultural violence, and whose human rights must be respected and protected.

It is necessary to recognize that peace is not only the absence of war, but also a positive process that is intrinsically linked to development and economic/social justice. In this regard, there are three important and mutual reinforcing pillars to be planted: a just economy oriented to the common good, prevention and solution of conflicts with nonviolent means and education and formation to human rights and peace.

Peace is a precondition of the respect of all human rights, including the right to development, and the violation of any human right is a threat to peace. We insist on the need as a human family to declare the human right to peace.

We strongly endorse Article 1 of the 1978 Declaration on the Preparation of Societies for Life in Peace, adopted in the General Assembly with no votes against, which states, “Every nation and every human being, regardless of race, conscience, language or sex, has the inherent right to life in peace. Respect for that right, as well as for the other human rights, is in the common interest of all mankind and an indispensable condition of advancement of all nations, large and small, in all fields.”

We expect the new draft text of the declaration on Right to Peace that will be submitted by the Chair of the Open Ended Working Group at its third session, to be stronger, relevant and with a significant impact on the lives of the people who suffer most the consequences of wars and conflicts. We expect also Member States and individuals to take responsibility and make the declaration not just a step, but a quantum leap forward. We appeal to all Member States to show the political will to prioritize the protection of human rights, including the human right to peace of all humanity and to reach the consensus on a declaration that can give real hope to the persons and peoples of the world, a hope that only peace can guarantee.